Certainly if there's one food genre Dallasites would defend to the bottom of a bowl of queso, it's Tex-Mex. My blog post that lists my nine favorite spots for sour cream enchiladas and beans drew scores of comments overnight. Most either professed a support of my picks, or demanding I be removed from the state. There is no room for moderates when debating refried beans.
This passionate love, in tandem with an article about Tex-Mex served in Atlanta, makes me wonder how the locals would grade chips and salsa served in other states. John Kessler spent a week working his way through a number of chains that got their start in Texas. He offers some thoughts as a non-Texan. And he's not very impressed with what the Mcrowd Restaurant Group has shipped east.
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Not only do the fajitas not sizzle, but they come garnished with slices of fried potato that are hard to distinguish from the desiccated chicken strips. The house frozen margarita -- called the "Mambo Taxi" and featuring a splash of sangria -- is sweet enough to qualify as dessert. I did like the crispy chicken enchiladas verdes, a tone poem of crunch and sogginess. And the orange queso goosed with a spoonful of piccadillo beef made for easy eating. But too many other dishes -- unseasoned guacamole made with stringy avocado, pallid tortilla soup -- kept me from feeling that Tex-Mex high. After a couple of visits, I'd give the food a C.
Not exactly a glowing endorsement.
Another Dallas-based chain Uncle Julio's Fine Mexican Food fared much better, boasting the best service according to Kessler. I'll note the author found himself quite smitten with the swirl margarita, but I'm sure this affection didn't alter his judgement of the establishment. Pappasito's Cantina boasts fajitas that hiss like a tabby cat, but the queso resembles latex and Chuy's gets dinged for its tiresome decor but impresses with a great tortilla soup and chips and salsa.
Of course none of these restaurants were featured the best Tex-Mex list here at The Observer. They weren't mentioned a single time in the comments for the post either. It would seem we're not putting our best foot forward when sending Tex-Mex out into the rest of the country, but something tells me that's OK. It's likely best evaluated right here.